PIA grounds 11 aircraft amid deepening financial problems

A PIA Boeing 777 climbs after takeoff.
Asuspine (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has grounded 11 aircraft due to lack of funds to buy spare parts. The national flag carrier is facing serious financial challenges, including dependency on the foreign currency.

The 11 grounded aircraft include three Boeing 777s, two Airbus A320s, four ATR 42-500s, and two ATR 72-500s. Three of the grounded planes are beyond repair for want of engines and other parts.

PIA Current Fleet Situation


Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the nation’s flagship carrier, finds itself wrestling with financial difficulties that have led to the grounding of 11 of its aircraft.

This predicament arises from a critical shortage of funds to procure essential spare parts, casting a shadow over the airline’s operations and reputation.

As PIA contends with these dire circumstances, its impact on the broader aviation landscape and the Pakistani economy at large becomes increasingly evident.

The 11 grounded aircraft represent a mix of PIA’s fleet, encompassing three Boeing 777s, two Airbus A320s, four ATR 42-500s, and two ATR 72-500s.

Among these, three planes are in an irreparable state due to the lack of engines and other vital components.

Consequently, the carrier is currently operating with a reduced fleet of 20 aircraft, a move necessitated by the grim financial constraints it faces.

Dependency on Foreign Currency


PIA’s woes have been exacerbated by the perilous state of its finances, further compounded by a significant dependence on foreign currency.

The airline’s financial crisis has been triggered by uncontrolled fluctuations in the value of the national currency and the soaring costs of petroleum products.

These factors have crippled its ability to generate the requisite funds to secure essential spare parts for its aircraft, thereby precipitating the present situation.

Aging Fleet


The issue of grounding also brings to light the underlying concerns surrounding the age and maintenance practices of PIA’s fleet.

With a substantial number of aircraft in service for over two decades, the fleet faces the inherent challenges of an aging apparatus. Frequent maintenance is a necessity, and the airline’s record in this regard has been subject to criticism.

Instances of aircraft being grounded due to safety apprehensions have underscored the gravity of the matter.

Implications for PIA and the Broader Landscape


The grounding of PIA’s aircraft carries far-reaching implications, casting a shadow over both the airline and the Pakistani economy.

As one of the country’s primary sources of employment, PIA’s difficulties have the potential to trigger substantial job losses, adding to the economic strain. Furthermore, the airline’s reduced capacity will undoubtedly hinder domestic and international travel, thereby impacting the mobility of passengers.

The Path Ahead


With the airline running at a financial loss, the outgoing Pakistani government elected to privatise the operation. This decision drew the criticism of an airline employees association; the People’s Unity of Pakistan International Airlines.

The association called for a countrywide strike to protest the privatisation decision last week

Additionally, an overhaul of the carrier’s maintenance practices looks to be imperative in order to safeguard the carrier’s continued operational reliability and passenger safety.

Failure to take immediate action could not only exacerbate the existing crisis but also lead to the unfortunate possibility of the airline’s closure.

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